Is LibCom being couped by the Internationalist Communist Tendency?

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WithDefiance
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Dec 9 2018 20:04
Is LibCom being couped by the Internationalist Communist Tendency?

I've for a long time been reading LibCom and have red many very interesting articles, even by the Internationalist Communist Tendency (ICT), but lately I'm kind of wondering why the whole frontpage is being spammed by articles by this organization. Isn't there a policy for this? The organization has its own website but seems to be using LibCom as their new propaganda platform. I am an anarchist and I see many libertarian communist tendencies as close to my idea's, but one party claiming so much space in this ideology-diverse space is starting to annoy me a little. Are there any others who have the same?

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Dec 9 2018 20:59

Yes, I'm also confused about this including the recent influx of material that can't really be considered libertarian at all.

The ICT promotes a vanguardist political model and in terms of history has been promoting a lot of pro Bolshevik stuff on the site, I've seen Brest-Litovsk resuscitation attempts and articles by Bordiga and others sincerely advocating Totalitarianism and total domination of the working class by the "proletarian party".

I'm sure much of this stuff wouldn't be welcome if you changed the author name and group acronym. I know the site has hosted stuff that's questionable before, but theirs usually an explanation for why it should be considered or an opportunity for a discussion.

Also one other thing I use a lot of anarchist/libertarian news wire services and I keep seeing ICT stuff on their because of uploads to Libcom. If the group is in touch with the people who run these services it might be a good idea to let them know so they can decide whether they want to promote a political parties propaganda?

Dyjbas
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Dec 9 2018 21:59

The ICT has been invited by a libcom admin to set up a blog (you can't just set up one yourself, you need permission from the libcom team). The blog section of the website is not particularly active lately, which is why it seems like it's dominated by ICT contributions.

The ICT does not "advocate totalitarianism" nor "total domination of the working class by the proletarian party". Indeed, it is explicitly anti-parliamentarian and for the self-organisation of the class.

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Dec 9 2018 22:05
Reddebrek wrote:
I've seen [...] articles by Bordiga and others sincerely advocating Totalitarianism and total domination of the working class by the "proletarian party".

Amazing, since the ICT is actually critical of Bordiga and "Bordigism", including Bordiga's view of the party (see the book Bordiga Beyond the Myth).

And the fact that the CWO publish articles here is equated with some kind of takeover?! Ridiculous.

Instead of complaining about them, anarchists should thank these left communists and consider how left communist ideas can help clarify the muddled ones that are so widespread among too many anarchists today (e.g. democratism, support for nationalist projects like Catalonia or Rojava, unions, reformist identity politics, etc.)

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Dec 9 2018 22:17

Yep. Plus, without their analysis we wouldn’t have realised that women aren’t oppressed coz Thatcher. Gratitude due.

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Dec 9 2018 22:49
Noah Fence wrote:
Yep. Plus, without their analysis we wouldn’t have realised that women aren’t oppressed coz Thatcher. Gratitude due.

Well, women aren't a class. I never said they aren't oppressed (... in different ways).

Dyjbas
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Dec 9 2018 23:05
Noah Fence wrote:
Yep. Plus, without their analysis we wouldn’t have realised that women aren’t oppressed coz Thatcher. Gratitude due.

What are you even talking about? What does this have to do with the ICT?

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Dec 9 2018 23:13
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Instead of complaining about them, anarchists should thank these left communists and consider how left communist ideas can help clarify the muddled ones that are so widespread among too many anarchists today (e.g. democratism, support for nationalist projects like Catalonia or Rojava, unions, reformist identity politics, etc.)

I'm not out here debating how enlightening the perspectives of the ICT are for anarchists because of some kind of generalizing make believe nativity you project on them. People being involved on the streets actually promoting anarchist or revolutionary perspectives get shit (like you give them for "supporting nationalist projects")? I've heard that shit too often and its cheap.

I know the ICT in the Netherlands and Belgium and here they do like to take a lot of space to spread their ever important idea's to convince anarchists that there should be a more sectarian approach to so many things (like their stance on the Spanish Civil War/Revolution). That while the organisation actually doesn't mean anything in terms of numbers or practical work.

I have my worries about this and I'm asking what other people think about this and I think that is in no way wrong or unsubstantiated.

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Dec 9 2018 23:14

No political party should dominate here (least of all a non anarchist one) let alone one using this site to advocate vanguardism. Libcom is mostly but not exclusively supposed to be anarchist. No impossibilist material has appeared on the front page as far as i know, which i assumed was because the page was curated by an editor.

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Dec 9 2018 23:17

For example wtf is this doing on libcom
https://libcom.org/blog/class-party-light-struggles-iran-06122018

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Dec 9 2018 23:53
Dyjbas wrote:
Noah Fence wrote:
Yep. Plus, without their analysis we wouldn’t have realised that women aren’t oppressed coz Thatcher. Gratitude due.

What are you even talking about? What does this have to do with the ICT?

It was a joke. Craftwork understood it. It’s not a good enough joke to be worthy of an explanation. My apologies, no criticism of, or offence intended to, the ICT.

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Dec 9 2018 23:48
jondwhite wrote:
No political party should dominate here (least of all a non anarchist one) let alone one using this site to advocate vanguardism. Libcom is mostly but not exclusively supposed to be anarchist. No impossibilist material has appeared on the front page as far as i know, which i assumed was because the page was curated by an editor.

I don't think any "political party" (which the ICT isn't) does "dominate" here...

They simply publish articles with regularity, which is why they appear under "Recent Posts". You are free to do the same.

I wonder what proportion of the SPGB's membership actually regularly write articles for their press?

Dyjbas
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Dec 10 2018 00:13
WithDefiance wrote:
I know the ICT in the Netherlands and Belgium

There is no ICT affiliate in the Netherlands or Belgium. You may be confusing it with some other group?

Noah Fence wrote:
It was a joke. Craftwork understood it.

Ah ok, fair enough!

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Dec 10 2018 07:25

It only looks a bit ICT top heavy because very few others contribute these days, which is a shame.

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Dec 10 2018 09:57

Party with a small p.
The stuff I've uploaded has never made the front page, why should the material by the ICT?
Also to reiterate what is this doing on libcom
https://libcom.org/blog/class-party-light-struggles-iran-06122018

Dyjbas
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Dec 10 2018 11:11
jondwhite wrote:
Party with a small p. The stuff I've uploaded has never made the front page, why should the material by the ICT?

Set up your own blog and your articles will come up on the blog feed on the front page, as the ICT ones do. Simple as!

Also, the "party" that we speak of is not a parliamentary body (like that of the impossibilists), but a revolutionary organisation, it is also not a government in waiting. To avoid any further confusion, this article explains what we mean by the term:

"the International will not be a government in waiting. Its task remains the spreading of world revolution. [...] There is no possibility of working class emancipation, nor of the construction of a new social order if this does not emerge from the class struggle [...] At no time and for no reason does the proletariat abandon its combative role. It does not delegate to others its historical mission, and it does not give power away, not even to its political party."

Mike Harman
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Dec 10 2018 11:18
jondwhite wrote:
which i assumed was because the page was curated by an editor.

The featured articles with photos at the top are, but not 'recent blog posts' - it just shows all the recent blog posts.

ajjohnstone
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Dec 10 2018 12:17

I'm here tolerated as a guest on the forum. I'm comfortable with that, even with the occasional flack for being an SPGBer on an anti-parliamentarian website

Indeed if i wished a greater role i would volunteer for admin/ moderator duties, lightening the burden of those with that unenviable task but have not.

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Dec 10 2018 13:14

Anarchists are against political parties including the ICT whether they contest elections or not. But im using party in a broader sense anyway to include organisations with full political platforms here (such as including afed, solfed etc).

I wouldnt expect libcom to be dominated by impossibilism but vanguardists shouldnt be given a front page platform through a blog to push vanguard parties such as here
https://libcom.org/blog/class-party-light-struggles-iran-06122018

slothjabber
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Dec 11 2018 09:44

What is 'vanguardism'?

The ICT are in favour of the class-conscious members of the working class organising together. So are the SPGB, so are the AF, so are the ACG, so are SolFed, so are all the different international anarchist groups.

The ICT are not for the 'party' taking state power. The SPGB is. Who's 'vanguardist' again?

ajjohnstone
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Dec 11 2018 11:36

"Only if the most advanced sectors of the proletariat recognise themselves in the political leadership of the party will we be on the road to the revolutionary socialist transformation."
http://www.leftcom.org/en/about-us

Can you perhaps explain who other than those self-declared "most advanced sectors of the proletariat" are designated the "political leadership" of the party (with the small p)? What's the process involved that others sectors of the proletariate should accept this self-proclaimed recognition should recognise them as such since it defers authority to neither the electorate nor trade union vote

I believe the SPGB puts their claim of representing the proletariat interests to a vote at the ballot box for endorsement. The traditional syndicalists subject themselves to the will of the unions' members vote.

But ICT seek to reinvent the wheel with a democracy of mass meetings. Is this the only form of acceptable democracy in action?

I think the lesson of the Bolshevik Revolution was that such elastic definition of unstructured decision-making within the soviets led to the domination of the Party (with a capital P) and certainly not social democracy of the whole class who were swiftly side-lined in the soviets.

Dyjbas
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Dec 11 2018 20:32
ajjohnstone wrote:
Can you perhaps explain who other than those self-declared "most advanced sectors of the proletariat" are designated the "political leadership" of the party (with the small p)? What's the process involved that others sectors of the proletariate should accept this self-proclaimed recognition should recognise them as such since it defers authority to neither the electorate nor trade union vote

Within capitalism class consciousness can only be achieved by a minority, and so it makes sense for that minority to band together in an organisation to get across its views to other workers. It's kind of self-evident.

"Communists [are] on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement."

ajjohnstone wrote:
I believe the SPGB puts their claim of representing the proletariat interests to a vote at the ballot box for endorsement. The traditional syndicalists subject themselves to the will of the unions' members vote.

But ICT seek to reinvent the wheel with a democracy of mass meetings. Is this the only form of acceptable democracy in action?

While class consciousness can only be achieved by a minority, it is the mass of the class which takes up class struggle (communism cannot be achieved by a minority!). And historically that class struggle has, time and time again, thrown up similar organs of self-organisation - mass assemblies, workers' councils and strike committees. So the ICT does not "seek to reinvent the wheel" here, rather it refuses to take legitimacy from capitalist bodies like the state or trade unions, which is what you seem to be advocating.

Like I said before, for us the party is not a government in waiting, but a political guide. "Communists have to win the right to be listened to" - not by standing in elections, but by participating in the everyday class struggle, and encouraging the autonomy of the class at every step.

ajjohnstone
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Dec 12 2018 00:56

Perhaps we are singing from the same hymn-sheet but maybe it is different verses or a differing chorus, Dyjbas, making distinctions without really fundamental differences.

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“Within capitalism class consciousness can only be achieved by a minority”

I think despite the caveats this answers Slothjabber’s question, “what is vanguardism?”

But it is an acknowledgment that there is “uneven consciousness” among workers that necessitates the need for more enlightened leaders.

Marx was known for his very careful choice of words and in the passage from the CM quoted by yourself, Marx talks of communists “pushing forward” all others. He does not say they form a political leadership at the head of the workers' movement. He is very clear that “The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority.”

As workers gained more experience of the class struggle and the workings of capitalism, it will become more consciously socialist and democratically organise by the workers themselves. The emergence of socialist understanding out of the experience of the workers could thus be said to be “spontaneous” in that it would require no intervention by people outside the working class to bring it about. Socialist agitation is necessary, but would be carried out by workers themselves, whose socialist ideas would have been derived from an interpretation of their class experience of capitalism. The end result would be an independent movement of the socialist-minded and democratically organised working class aimed at winning control of political power in order to abolish capitalism.

But if we are to bandy Marx’s words about, he did say, "The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves. We cannot, therefore, co-operate with people who openly state that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves....’ 

I think too, Dyjbas, you make a virtue out of necessity when you talk about democracy being historically represented by “mass assemblies, workers' councils and strike committees. I don’t wish to denigrate tools that have proved very useful to our fellow-workers but they shouldn’t be promoted to a principle of self-organisation. Mostly these expressions of our fellow-workers came into being when more structured, more permanent and, yes, when more constitutional and accountable methods were not available.

Members of the SPGB believe that the working class can overthrow capitalism and build socialism without political leadership. Pannekoek said: “The belief in parties is the main reason for the impotence of the working class ... because a party is an organisation that aims to lead and control the workers.” But he also qualified this statement: “If ... persons with the same fundamental conceptions [regarding socialism] unite for the discussion of practical steps and seek clarification through discussion and propagandise their conclusions, such groups might be called parties, but they would be parties in an entirely different sense from those of today.”

A depiction of what we in the SPGB see ourselves doing, not as a party leading workers but pushing them forward by using the logic of their own arguments and experience. And when it comes to acquiring political power by capturing the state machine we are not a minority party bt simply an instrument of our class. And i will add my own caveat - the SPGB may well not be the eventual class party that arises, and may well not even be its embryo which i think relates to the way ICT also views its organisation.

Because the establishment of socialism depends upon an understanding of the necessary social changes by a majority of the population, it cannot be left to parties acting apart from or above the workers, nor solely through Parliament. The workers cannot vote for socialism and then carry on as usual. The crucial part of the SPGB case is that understanding is a necessary condition for socialism and we see the SPGB’s job as to shorten the time, to speed up the process - to act as a catalyst. The SPGB views its function to be to make socialists, to propagate socialism, and to point out to the workers that they must achieve their own emancipation. To “make socialism an immediacy” for the working class, something of importance and value to people’s lives now, rather than a singular ‘end’. We await the mass "socialist party".

At some stage, for whatever reason, socialist consciousness will reach a "critical mass", at which point it will just snowball and carry people along with it. It may happen in a more dramatic form as an avalanche of new ideas.

When more and more people are coming to want socialism, a mass socialist movement will emerge to dwarf all the small groups and grouplets such as yours and mine that exist today. When the idea of socialism catches on, we’ll then have our unified movement. With the spread of socialist ideas, all organisations will change and take on a participatory-democratic and socialist character, so that the majority organisation for socialism will not be just political and economic, but will also embrace all aspects of social life, as well as inter-personal relationships. We’re talking about a radical social revolution.

But you have heard all this before from the SPGB...

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Dec 12 2018 23:06

Vanguardism is the perspective that a majority of the working class are incapable of attaining socialist conciousness. This is essentially the view propounded in the Iran article too.

This Iran article I would request is raised at the next meeting of libcom admins with a view to removal.

A point on party writers was raised earlier but I dont know what proportion write. I imagine it is small.

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Dec 13 2018 00:15
Quote:
But if we are to bandy Marx’s words about, he did say, "The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves. We cannot, therefore, co-operate with people who openly state that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves....’

A dirty way to quote... What is Marx talking about here in reality? He is not talking about a communist party or a league of advanced workers but of the "philanthropic bourgeois and petty bourgeois", that it is impossible to "co-operate with people who wish to expunge this class struggle from the movement". This is much closer to critiquing people like Bernstein than it is Lenin, Kautsky, Luxemburg and so on. "Vanguardism" does not expunge class struggle and has never claimed to be able to emancipate the workers from above, what marxists have claimed is that the party(formed by the most advanced sections of workers) can help in leading and centralizing local class struggles(to turn it from individual struggles between one group of workers and one capitalist or group of capitalists, to a struggle against capitalism).

Even if we take your "quote" at face value how does Marx theories on class-for-itself and class-in-itself fit into this?

Quote:
Marx was known for his very careful choice of words and in the passage from the CM quoted by yourself, Marx talks of communists “pushing forward” all others. He does not say they form a political leadership at the head of the workers' movement. He is very clear that “The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority.”

Marx and Engels were also clear on the roles of communist organisations like the international, to be able to coordinate the proletarian struggles and for the party to centralize local struggles, abolishing the competition between workers.

I don't think it is controversial to say most workers don't have a "socialist conciousness" and that in no period of revolution have all workers(or even intellectuals) become communists. The larger masses of workers have in previous revolutions still become revolutionary and "advanced" of course, something that is vital for any uprising, and fought for their own demands that grew organically from their situation("peace, land and bread", and so on) but that doesn't equate to them being communists.

Quote:
This Iran article I would request is raised at the next meeting of libcom admins with a view to removal.

I feel like this is debate that comes up from time to time, like when people got angry at the Kautsky archives and the translated Bordiga essays. Unless the texts on libcom is suppose to build up to some libertarian communist programmee I don't see the point in curating based on politics when the ICT in reality is built very much on an autonomist(in the original sense of the word) way of organizing anyway.

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Dec 13 2018 02:33
Craftwork wrote:

Amazing, since the ICT is actually critical of Bordiga and "Bordigism", including Bordiga's view of the party (see the book Bordiga Beyond the Myth).

Not really mate, because at no point does the bit you're qouting say anything about the ICT. I can't believe I have to spell this out but it's usually common practise when airing concerns to be allowed to develop or talk about related issues, this is a forum not a complaint form. The bit you cut off before that was referring more to the ICT, although as the second part makes clear I've noticed similar issues with other additions to site in recent history.

Quote:
And the fact that the CWO publish articles here is equated with some kind of takeover?! Ridiculous.

Sure it may not be the best choice of words but given the reactions from the ICT and yourself whenever they're questioned I think there's enough ridiculous behaviour to go around.

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Instead of complaining about them, anarchistsshould thank these left communists and consider how left communist ideas can help clarify the muddled ones that are so widespread among too many anarchists today (e.g. democratism, support for nationalist projects like Catalonia or Rojava, unions, reformist identity politics, etc.)

See speaking of related issues and ridiculous statements. I find the typical framing of these disputes as a rift between a homogeneous Left Communism (a catch all term with no real meaning) and Anarchism absurd and highly dishonest.

The ICT is no more representative (Indeed much of the stuff that's been published here has been extremely hostile to others lumped in the label) of Left Communism et all than CrimeThinc of anarchism or the Alliance for Workers Liberty is for the Trots or the PSL for whatever current they've moved too now.

For starters plenty of Left Comms support Rojava and plenty of Anarchists who want nothing to do with it. Just like there are thousands of MLs fighting and dying over there and hundreds of ML articles and polemics denouncing the whole thing as a sinister US plot against one of the last bastions of defence against imperialism. Ideological positions don't work the way you seem to think they do.

We're discussing whether the ICT's brand of politics is appropriate for this site, just like how there are plenty of circle A anarchist stuff that was found not to be appropriate here. And so far in this thread there have been three counter arguments.

1: An Admin said we could stay
2: Its ridiculous to even ask
3: Pointing the finger to the SPGB instead.

These aren't counter arguments, you're just not happy things you like are facing criticism.

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Dec 13 2018 04:17
Reddebrek wrote:
For starters plenty of Left Comms support Rojava

Examples?

ajjohnstone
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Dec 13 2018 05:13

Leninist girl,

As for the quote, i feel it can be used appropriately against intellectuals, academics and activists, who try to impose their political leadership upon the working-class movement.

Why do you single out Bernstein, one time Engels secretary, although to become a revisionist, but then nearly everybody in the 2nd International turned to revisionism to various extents, didn't they? (Bernstein later restored his reputation to a degree by opposing WW1 and helping to form the Independent Socialists)

But just to be relevant to this debate was it not from Kautsky that Lenin acquired that the working class must acquire socialist consciousness from without.

“In this connection socialist consciousness appears to be a necessary and direct result of the proletarian class struggle. But this is absolutely untrue . . . Modern socialist consciousness can arise only on the basis of profound scientific knowledge. Indeed, modern economic science is as much a condition for socialist production as, say, modern technology, and the proletariat can create neither the one nor the other, no matter how much it may desire to do so; both arise out of the modern social process. The vehicle of science is not the proletariat, but the bourgeois intelligentsia; it was in the minds of individual members of this stratum that modern Socialism originated, and it was they who communicated it to the more intellectually developed proletarians who, in their turn, introduce it into the proletarian class struggle where conditions allow this to be done. Thus, socialist consciousness is something introduced into the proletarian class struggle from without and not something that arose within it spontaneously” - Kautsky

There is indeed a difference between a conscious working class and a working class without class consciousness. The difference is one of knowledge or lack of knowledge.

Yet both can and do engage in a class struggle, and organise against employers and act against the State. Marx expected the working class to develop from a mere economic category (a "class in itself" ) into a revolutionary political actor ("class for itself"). A working class "for itself" has never developed, a class consciousness of a lesser sort that at trade-unionism and Labourism, the idea and practice of the working class as a class within capitalism but which wanted a better deal within this system, not to replace it with a class-free and exploitation-free society.

Ah well, i don't think any of us can be sure why progress was not revolutionary so we can have a healthy debate about it and to comradely agree to disagree on interpretations.

Class struggle without any understanding of where we are going is simply committing oneself to a never-ending treadmill. This is where the Leninist parties go wrong. They think mechanistically that a sense of revolutionary direction emerges spontaneously out of "the struggle" thus circumventing the realm of ideology - the need to educate. It doesn't. The workers can never win the class struggle while it is confined simply to the level of trade union militancy; it has to be transformed into a socialist consciousness. Conversely, socialist consciousness cannot simply rely for its own increase on ideological persuasion. It has to link up with the practical struggle. The success of the socialist revolution will depend on the growth of socialist consciousness on a mass scale and that these changed ideas can only develop through a practical movement.

How are workers supposed to become a "revolutionary" without engaging - and eventually agreeing - with the IDEA of what would be entail in a social revolution. There is no logic that dictates that we must necessarily become revolutionary socialists. Our life experience and circumstances could just as easily turn us into Fascists or Nationalists. In other words, our engagement with the world around us is always mediated by the ideas we hold in our heads; we cannot apprehend this world except through these ideas .

This is another area of ideas where we can engage in discussion and exchange views as comrades. I have said before i am committed to being part of the "thin red line" but it does not mean consensus when explaining and advocating our positions.

We can also hold differing analysis of previous revolutions and why they did not "organically" evolve into socialist revolutions. Socialism will be established by the working class and that its establishment will result from an intensification and escalation of the class struggle. That follows almost by definition--obviously, if the working class are going to overthrow capitalism and capitalist class rule the class struggle is going to be stepped up. That's not the interesting question. The real question is what is it that is going to provoke the working class into intensifying/escalating the class struggle and/or acquiring socialist consciousness.

Socialist consciousness comes from life experience, but that being said, why are not more people achieving this consciousness? Everything from education, accepted customs, the prevailing capitalist ideology and cultural hegemony. We can say that socialist consciousness comes from life experience, but then that automatically implies that every worker should achieve it, it should have happened.

What exactly is our role? Where do we "intervene" to raise consciousness. How do we intervene? What practical measures can we take as a party (small p) or as a Party (big P)? We come to a socialist view of the world by interacting directly or indirectly with others, exchanging ideas with them. And that is perhaps the role of the revolutionary group as being - as a catalyst in the process of changing consciousness. But let us be brutally honest, there is no group on Libcom that has any significant presence within the working class.

Yes to use your terminology "advanced" workers (socialists/anarchists) are not superior to any other of society's members . Nevertheless, we do understand how the class society basically works. That is the difference to the majority of the working class, which do not understand and therefore do not see the need to abolish capitalism.

But again i have posted much the same arguments often before on Libcom. Some will say (rather ungraciously albeit) i am parroting the same old SPGB cliches. And of course many will say i go on...and on...and on...when less said is more said. My apologies, Leninist Girl.

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Dec 13 2018 09:16

Libcom isnt supposed to carry stuff only arguing against libertarian communism core case. Debates maybe.

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Dec 13 2018 09:36
jondwhite wrote:
Libcom isnt supposed to carry stuff only arguing against libertarian communism core case. Debates maybe.

It's frankly bizarre that you keep repeatedly saying stuff like this. A lot of what you yourself have added will be against the anti-parliamentary communist position too, the Socialist Studies archive for one example... Do you want that taken down now?

slothjabber
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Dec 13 2018 09:37
ajjohnstone wrote:
... it not from Kautsky that Lenin acquired [the idea] that the working class must acquire socialist consciousness from without.

“In this connection socialist consciousness appears to be a necessary and direct result of the proletarian class struggle. But this is absolutely untrue . . . Modern socialist consciousness can arise only on the basis of profound scientific knowledge. Indeed, modern economic science is as much a condition for socialist production as, say, modern technology, and the proletariat can create neither the one nor the other, no matter how much it may desire to do so; both arise out of the modern social process. The vehicle of science is not the proletariat, but the bourgeois intelligentsia; it was in the minds of individual members of this stratum that modern Socialism originated, and it was they who communicated it to the more intellectually developed proletarians who, in their turn, introduce it into the proletarian class struggle where conditions allow this to be done. Thus, socialist consciousness is something introduced into the proletarian class struggle from without and not something that arose within it spontaneously” - Kautsky.

That seems to pretty definitively state that Kautsky's view is that socialist consciousness is acquired from outside the working class, not something that arises within it. Are you saying that Lenin didn't get this view from Kaustky, because you think Lenin didn't have it, or because you think Lenin did have it but he got it from somewhere else?

The majority of Left Comms don't think that socialist consciousness is brought to the working class from outside, we see socialist consciousness as being a creation of the class itself. The political organisations of the proletariat (and I'd include the SPGB and the ACG and others here, not just Left Comm groups) are created by the working class and group together what Marx calls 'the most advanced and resolute' section of the working class (OK, he and Engels are talking about parties but the argument I think holds for a situation where we're not the 'left wing' of anything any more).

"The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.

The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement."

Some workers start critiquing capitalism before other workers. That's the vanguard, those who more-or-less understand 'the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement', the 'the most advanced and resolute' section of the working class. I repeat - that includes the SPGB and Anarchist groups as well as Left Communistss and Council Communists. It doesn't mean that those groups take state power (whatever the SPGB and the Bordigists say), it means that everywhere the communists try to see what is in 'the common interests of the entire proletariat' and put that course of action forward to the class - but the class decides.

The idea that Left Communists believe that the working class cannot acquire socialist consciousness is a nonsense. We believe that the working class creates socialist consciousness. But in capitalist conditions, because 'The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force' it is difficult for the working class. There will be no mass socialist consciousness in capitalist society because capitalist idea are the ruling ideas. But we have become communists have we not? All workers can potentially become communists under capitalism, but not all workers will, because despite the 'contradictions' (always thought that term is something of a euphemism) of capitalism, not all workers, probably the majority, will not see that socialist society is a realisable project, while under the conditions of capitalist society.

While socialist society will be the conscious creation of the workers, we see that the destruction of capitalism will be something else. Left Communists do not expect the working class to build a socialist society - at the behest of a few dozen Left Comms no less! - from nothing. We have become communists because we took on lessons from workers' struggles taht we have been involved in or that we have seen or heard about that inspired us - and some, because we have read Marx. But I didn't become a socialist because I read Marx, I read Marx because I was a socialist. I became a socialist because I saw the 1984-5 Miners' Strike and the role of the state and capitalist society against the working class - and also saw the solidarity of other workers with the miners. It was the experience of class struggle that 'created' me as a socialist. I think most of us will have trajectories that are similar in outline if not in detail.

This is the process, I would say, that Left Comms tend to see happening in the revolution. In strikes, even big ones, the working class produces minorities. Small numbers of workers begin to question the entirety of capitalist society. In truly massive confrontations larger numbers of workers will seriously question society. It will be the process of fighting that teaches the working class in general how, and why, to fight. Socialist consciousness isn't brought from outside (no matter what Kautsky says) and it isn't taught to dumb workers by a socialist elite (no matter what the SPGB says, and no matter that the socialist elite is drawn from the working class), it is developed, in struggle, by the working class as a whole.

So, yes, if you think that the idea that all workers can by our own collective efforts develop socialist consciousness rather than being taught it by an enlightened few is 'vanguardism' then go ahead, but please, understand that the SPGB's elitist conception of socialist consciousness is not widely shared.